A big heart and powerful moments make this little Aussie film the must watch local production of 2011.
Mad Bastards is a film that looks at many different issues, but its primary concern is that of manhood.
So what is it to be a man? Strength? Integrity? Responsibility? Steady employment? The ability to raise a family?
If those are the elements needed, then the character of TJ (Dean Daley-Jones) is sorely lacking. Rather than face up to this responsibilities, he instead chooses to either run away from them, or drown himself in alcohol which leads to violent rages.
It is a visit to his incarnated brother which leads him on a mammoth journey across Australia to visit his son Bullet (Lucas Yeeda), himself afoul of the law after setting a house on fire. As his father embarks on his journey to take responsibility of his past, Bullet is sent on a walkabout / retreat to meditate on his future.
If the film’s title is curious, after matching Mad Bastards it will make perfect sense. This is a world fuelled by alcohol, violence, and parental neglect, toxic elements which create a lethal environment where only madness can reign. Yet there is a rock amidst the chaos in the dominating yet quiet form of Texas (Greg Tait), the Sheriff, parental figure, and town leader all rolled into one.
All of these characters feel authentic and raw, and with good reason. Each actor is new to the craft, with each character framed around their own experiences. It’s a risky experiment, but one that pays off. Dean Daley-Jones, who plays the foreboding TJ, delivers the intensity and inner turmoil needed for the part. Tait counters with his own physically imposing performance, and fills it with honour and integrity.
For all of the sombre, reflective drama which Mad Bastards inhabits, it is not a heavy handed, doom laden movie. A pivotal scene featuring a men’s group embraced in deafening silence is dry comedy at its best.
Then there are the songs: soulful, catchy, and beautifully composed and performed by famed indigenous duo The Pigram Brothers (who also produce) and acclaimed singer/songwriter Alex Lloyd.
That it all works out so beautifully is credit to writer/director Brendan Fletcher. A long time documentary filmmaker, Mad Bastards marks Fletcher’s feature film debut and it’s one filled with atmosphere, grit and offers hope that these men will find their way out of the madness.